Surgical Malpractice

When health care providers make surgical errors and injure a patient, the patient or their family may be able to file a surgical malpractice lawsuit. Learn about the different types of medical mistakes doctors make during surgery and how to take legal action if you or a loved one was harmed by a negligent medical professional.

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By filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you can pursue financial compensation and justice from those who caused you or a loved one harm.

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What Is Surgical Malpractice?

Surgical medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider’s negligent actions fail to meet the standard of care and cause injury to a patient. The standard of care refers to the knowledge and skill one would expect other physicians to use under similar circumstances.

Any member of a surgical team can be responsible for surgical malpractice.

This includes:

  • Surgeons
  • Surgical technicians
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Medical students or residents
  • Scrub or operating room nurses

Our team connects victims of surgical errors with top medical attorneys across the country. Contact one of our case managers right now to get started with a free case review.

Surgical Malpractice Examples

Two doctors perform a surgical procedure on a patient

Surgical medical malpractice can happen in different ways. While some errors may cause minor injuries, others may result in lifelong injuries — and in some cases, death.

Common types of surgical errors include:

  • Causing injury during surgery: Surgeons may fail to take proper precautions in the operating room, causing serious injuries. For example, they may damage internal organs, ignore vital signs, or tear muscle or nerve fibers.
  • Emergency room errors: ERs are often overcrowded and understaffed, which can lead to critical mistakes in the operating room, especially when prompt and proper treatment is often a matter of life and death.
  • Failing to prevent surgical fires: Patients may catch on fire when surgeons are using electrical instruments like cauterizers and lasers. Patients can develop severe scars and burns as a result.
  • Ignoring complications: Medical professionals can cause harm to a patient when they fail to address drug reactions or control bleeding.
  • Leaving tools in the body: Surgeons may accidentally leave surgical instruments like sponges, scissors, scalpels, or tweezers in a patient’s body after an operation. These items can cause infections or puncture blood vessels and organs, causing internal bleeding.
  • Making anesthesia errors: Anesthesia errors usually happen because of an anesthesiologist’s lack of knowledge, failure to follow procedures, and medication errors. A lack of communication between members of the surgical team can also result in these dangerous mistakes.
  • Operating on the wrong body part: Examples include amputation of the wrong leg or removal of the wrong kidney. According to a nursing publication called the AORN Journal, wrong-site surgeries occur between 1,300 to 2,700 times every year in the United States, and 85% are caused by inadequate planning.
  • Performing incorrect surgery: This occurs when a surgeon performs an operation that isn’t necessary or fails to perform a procedure correctly. As a result, patients must recover from an operation that did not treat their underlying condition or left them in a worse condition.
  • Performing poor plastic surgery: Careless or improperly trained plastic surgeons can cause patients to suffer disfigurement, excessive scarring, nerve damage, infections, blood clots, and even wrongful death. A medical malpractice plastic surgery lawsuit allows victims to pursue the compensation they deserve.

Sometimes surgery doesn’t go as planned. However, surgeons should have the training and skills to adjust as needed.

If you’re not sure whether you have a valid medical malpractice claim, reach out to one of our caring and compassionate case managers to learn more about the options available to you.

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What to Do After a Surgical Error

If you have suffered an injury due to a surgical error, here are some steps you can take to see whether you may be eligible to file a surgical malpractice lawsuit.

1. Contact a Surgical Malpractice Lawyer

First, reach out to an attorney who has experience in this area of the law. Surgical malpractice lawyers have the expertise needed to handle complicated medical malpractice cases and recover maximum compensation for those affected by surgical negligence. can help you connect with a top surgical malpractice lawyer near you. Contact us right now for a free case evaluation.

2. Gather Medical Records

An attorney may review your medical records to see if you’re eligible to file a medical negligence lawsuit. If you’re considering taking legal action, it’s a good idea to collect your medical records and related documents and keep them in a safe place. An attorney can also gather medical records on your behalf and use those documents to help prove surgery malpractice.

3. File a Surgical Malpractice Lawsuit

Once your lawyer has determined your eligibility, they will explain the process of filing a surgical errors lawsuit. Surgery malpractice lawyers can prepare and file paperwork before any deadlines, gather and preserve evidence, handle communications with the opposing side, and negotiate a surgical malpractice settlement on your behalf.

Types of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

There are two main types of surgery malpractice lawsuits:

  1. Personal injury surgery malpractice lawsuits are brought by the person who was injured by a health care provider’s surgical errors. They may be able to recover compensation for medical costs, loss of quality of life, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
  2. Wrongful death surgery malpractice lawsuits are brought by surviving family members (or an estate representative) of a loved one who died as a result of surgical malpractice. Damages can include money for medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and more.

Who Is Eligible for a Surgical Errors Lawsuit?

To be eligible for filing a surgeon malpractice lawsuit, your attorney must establish these three elements:

  1. Duty of care: There was a patient-doctor relationship, and the doctor owed the patient a duty of care.
  2. Standard of care: The surgeon and their team provided care below what another medical professional would have offered under similar circumstances.
  3. Damages: The medical professional’s negligence caused injury and compensable damages.

Statute of Limitations on Surgical Malpractice

Every state has its own statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing medical malpractice claims. In most states, the statute of limitations is 1-3 years from the date on which the patient discovered the error. This time limit is often shorter for wrongful death claims.

The best way to ensure that your claim is filed in time is to work with an experienced surgical malpractice lawyer. They can determine when the statute of limitations started running in your case and file your lawsuit before the clock runs out.

Contact one of our team members at right now and get started with a free case review.

Evidence Used in Medical Malpractice Cases

A lawyer meets with a client to discuss a surgical malpractice lawsuitYour lawyer must present robust evidence to prove surgical errors medical malpractice.

This evidence may include:

  • Diagnostic tests, like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, which can show signs of surgical medical malpractice. This may include organ damage or tools inside your body.
  • Hospital records, which are internal records kept by the hospital. They include information about the hospital’s policies and the physicians who were part of your surgical team.
  • Medical reports that establish that you had a doctor-patient relationship with your surgeon may reveal mistakes made by your medical team.
  • Video evidence, if available, can show exactly what went wrong during your surgical procedure.

A medical malpractice attorney can collect this and other evidence to help prove your case.

Compensation for Surgical Malpractice

If your medical malpractice lawsuit is successful, you will receive monetary compensation from the hospital and/or medical staff responsible for your injuries.

This may include money for:

  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • And more

Medical Malpractice Settlement Amounts

Almost all medical malpractice cases — 93%, according to the U.S. Department of Justice — settle out of court. And it’s not unusual for these cases to result in settlements of $1 million or more.

The average settlement for a medical malpractice lawsuit is about $425,000, according to medical reporter Medscape.

In 2020, the median jury award for medical malpractice was nearly $1.3 million, and the average award was more than $1.8 million, according to data published by Insurance Information Institute.

Your potential settlement or verdict could be more or less depending on the severity of your injury, the surgeon’s medical mistake, and the state where you live.

Did you know?

Some states have malpractice damage caps, or limits, to how much you can recover from medical malpractice lawsuits.

An experienced medical malpractice attorney will know about any limits in your state and work to get you as much money as possible under the law. If they can’t resolve your case through a settlement, they will fight for you in court.

Get Help From a Surgical Malpractice Lawyer

Finding an attorney to handle a surgical malpractice case can be daunting, especially since there’s so much on the line.

Here’s a list of traits to look for when seeking an attorney to help with your case:

  • Free case reviews: The best medical malpractice lawyers will review your case for free.
  • Experience: A lawyer who has years of experience handling surgical medical malpractice cases is best positioned to obtain maximum compensation.
  • No upfront fees: Reputable medical malpractice attorneys don’t charge any fees and only get paid if they recover money for you.
  • Resources: Top surgical malpractice lawyers have registered nurses on staff and connections to top medical experts who can help prove medical malpractice.

Every surgical malpractice attorney in the network has these important traits. Additionally, they understand the emotional devastation that often comes with these lawsuits and will fight for every dollar that you and your family deserve.

Call our caring and compassionate case managers now at (888) 726-9160 for a free consultation.

Failed Surgery Lawsuit FAQs

What are some surgical malpractice examples?

Many different errors can be considered surgical malpractice.

Some common surgical malpractice examples include:

  • A surgeon leaving a medical tool like a sponge inside the body
  • A doctor operating on the wrong body part
  • A surgeon performing the wrong procedure
  • A doctor performing unnecessary surgery

Can you sue if surgery goes wrong?

Yes, you may be able to file a surgical malpractice lawsuit if a mistake occurs during surgery. To be successful, your lawyer will need to show that the health care professional failed to follow the standard of care and that their negligence caused you harm.

Can you sue for surgery complications?

Yes, you may be able to file a surgery complications lawsuit if your surgical team made surgical errors that caused you to suffer an injury. A medical malpractice attorney can help you prove your case and hold the negligent health care providers accountable.

What to do if a doctor makes a mistake in surgery?

If a doctor makes a mistake in surgery, make sure you take care of your health and get proper medical treatment. Next, ask an experienced surgical malpractice lawyer for legal advice and find out if you’re eligible to pursue justice and compensation through a surgical error lawsuit.

Our team at can help you connect with top medical malpractice attorneys. Call (888) 726-9160 or fill out our online form to get started. Icon

Fact-Checked and Legally Reviewed by: makes it easier to take legal action. We have information, lawsuit guides, and breaking news about drugs, products, and other issues that could affect you.

  1. American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA). “What is Medical Malpractice?” Retrieved June 14, 2023 from
  2. AORN Journal (2014). “10 Years In, Why Time Out Still Matters.” Retrieved June 14, 2023 from,of%20analyzed%20wrong%2Dsite%20surgeries.
  3. Cancer Council NSW. “Complications during surgery.” Retrieved June 14, 2023 from
  4. Cornell Law School: Legal Information Institute. “Cause.” Retrieved June 14, 2023 from
  5. Cornell Law School: Legal Information Institute. “Proximate cause.” Retrieved June 14, 2023 from
  6. Insurance Information Institute. “Facts + Statistics: Product liability.” Retrieved July 13, 2023 from
  7. National Library of Medicine: PubMed Central. Anesthesia Essays and Researches. “Anesthesia Essays and Researches.” Retrieved June 14, 2023 from
  8. National Library of Medicine (2009). Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. Retrieved June 14, 2023 from
  9. National Library of Medicine. StatPearls. “Medical Error Reduction and Prevention.” Retrieved June 14, 2023 from
  10. Sokolove Law. “Surgical Malpractice.” Retrieved June 14, 2023 from
  11. Wyss Institute. “Smart Tools: RFID Tracking for Surgical Instruments.” Retrieved June 14, 2023 from
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